Now that her office sits empty, Lt. Doug Leslin is taking over a very important job at the Crystal Police Department. He's making sure the candy jar that Susan Carstens filled for 35 years—a way to entice colleagues to stop and chat—will never go empty.
Filling the candy jar is just one way Crystal police are honoring Carstens, a civilian employee who spent more than three decades helping troubled youth in the city, connecting them with resources and steering them away from the court system.
Resident Shawn Smith was one of the teens who Carstens helped after he committed some petty crimes, like shoplifting, in the late 1980s.
"She was my first interaction with the police," he said.
Years ago, he was also caught throwing a party while his parents were out of town.
"Instead of arresting all my friends, and arresting me for providing alcohol to all my friends, instead she told me about the liability that my parents have," said Smith. "Rather than go through the court system, she helped me and kind of taught me."
In addition to the kids and families she worked with, Carstens also cared for many vulnerable adults in the community.
"She would make sure they had food, they had heat and electricity," said Vicky Dalman, administrative clerk for the department. "She arranged for their driveways to be plowed out, took them to get groceries or doctor's appointments."
Carstens' commitment to the community never wavered, even after her cancer diagnosis several years ago.
"Same Susan, she didn’t miss a beat," said Lt. Leslin. "She would still come to work every day."
As the condolences pour in on the police department’s Facebook page, her colleagues realize just how big the hole is that she left behind.
"No one is going to be able to fill her shoes," said Dalman. "I think the whole department feels that way."
The funeral for Carstens is Wednesday, July 29 at 12:30 p.m. at the Plymouth Congregational Church. It is open to the public. New Hope and Robbinsdale police officers have offered to staff the city of Crystal so all of Crystal’s officers can attend the funeral.
Learn about our mobile app - http://bit.ly/CH12app
Channel 12 is on Comcast cable in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis and includes the cities Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Golden Valley, Maple Grove, New Hope, Osseo, Plymouth and Robbinsdale.